North Bay Wins Berth to Travelers National
Granite Club’s Brown, Coniston’s Patry win Northern Ontario club provincials
It came down to last rocks and great shots at the North Bay Granite Club, Sunday, to decide which Northern Ontario rinks advance to the 2017 Travelers Curling Club Championship in Kingston next November.
And both District 5 representatives, the Granite Club’s Jeff Brown and Coniston’s Melanie Patry, edged out their northern opponents to claim the men’s and women’s berths at the nationals.
Brown, with vice Gavan Jamieson, second Steve Decary and lead Bobby Ray, was playing a chess match against Port Arthur’s Greg Doran Rink.
After singles going both ways in the first and second ends, the two teams were content to blank the next four until the house filled up in the seventh.
Ray said they got more aggressive after a Port Arthur miss and drew in behind one of their stones for a guard and it caught the attention of fans.
And it could have back-fired with Port Arthur out-numbering North Bay, which retained shot rock but it was vulnerable until Jamieson made a great shot to raise guard on the right side.
Doran called a time out and came up with a plan to send a far-left guard of North Bay’s into the mess and knock out North Bay’s rock, leaving the visitors with a chance to steal two or three behind the front guards. But it didn’t quite do the job and Brown used his hammer to gently tap Jamieson’s guard in close to count a pair and lead 3-1.
Port Arthur, which earned a berth in the final after a 7:30 a.m. tie-breaker Sunday morning, had the hammer for the eighth and final end, but only managed one to finish 3-2 for North Bay.
Brown gave credit to Jamieson’s clutch shot and acknowledged that his tap-in for two was key, but he said the biggest turning point was actually in the second end.
He said his last-rock freeze through a crowd was likely the most thrilling shot of his life because if he missed it would have allowed Port Arthur a chance to steal three or more instead of taking just one to tie the game 1-1.
Patry’s win over Kenora’s Crystal Wojtowicz featured more ends that were exciting with the Coniston crew erasing big deficits twice.
Kenora came out strong with a three-rock count in the first end and was up 4-1 until Coniston hit a triple in the fourth end. They gave up two more to Kenora in the fifth, but chipped away with singles in the sixth and seventh.
Wojtowicz had the hammer in the end, but well-placed guards by Patry’s Rink and a Kenora miss on a multiple-rock take out attempt, left her with a tight shot that made it by the top rock but a tad short losing 7-6.
Brown said “it’s an honour and privilege” to represent Northern Ontario at the nationals, but the opportunity to do it with his oldest curling associates and close friends makes it even better.
“I have curled with Steve Decary since I was a teenager,” Brown said. “Gavan Jamieson and Bobby Ray are two of my closest friends … playing and winning with this team makes me prouder than words can describe.”